The Importance of a Portfolio for New Writers

It's Me
8 min readAug 1, 2020

Being a new writer is intimidating. The service that you provide is unique, right? To succeed, the answer should be yes.

Avoid the trap of comparison. You are not in the same league as seasoned writers. Having the right stuff makes the process easier, but only practice and tenacity are necessary. Now, showcase that talent in an organized spot.

Beginners see the income gap, and catching up seems impossible. Intimidated freelancers make the mistake of slashing their rates. This is a bad move, and those habits never lead down the right path. The best thing to do for your career and income is to craft a pristine writing portfolio.

Comparing yourself to others is easy. Taking the steps to go above and beyond expectations is hard. Look at it this way. There are thousands of “writers” in the industry, but what sets you apart from them?

What special services do you offer?

What can you do those other writers can’t?

Why should a client hire you and not some random from the street?

In this article, I will recommend tools and strategies that I personally use. If I have not used them, then I will point to someone who has. I want this article to be helpful to upcoming freelance writers. Please, enjoy my advice!

How Do I Start a Writing Portfolio With No Experience?

The hardest part of starting a writing portfolio is collecting samples. Procrastination does you no favors. Get into the flow. Grab some inspiration, and simply write. Always remember that writing is what makes a writer.

Hint: Imposter syndrome is real, and that toxic mindset holds you from success.

You ask me, “Well, what is there to write about?”

I ask in return, “What are your favorite subjects, interests, or hobbies?”

Be unique. Grab someone’s attention, and run with it. If you can spend a few minutes talking about the subject, then that is all you need to create a written story.

Come up with five to seven original pieces, and blend them together. Add a description, some interesting photos, and point viewers to your social media. Congratulations, you passed the first step.

Here is how I built my writing portfolio as a beginner freelance content creator:

Fiverr

The true lesson is to take what you need, and then move along. Do not dwell on a place that shows no growth potential. — Me

Fiverr has a bad reputation, but this site kick-started my career as a freelancer. You have to put in real work $5, but that is not the point.

Fiverr is the best teacher I ever had. To be completely honest, I will never go back. Writing mills are killing the writing industry. When I call Fiverr a teacher, I mean that I made every mistake in the book. I was late to deadlines, rude to potential customers; and I almost never had repeat work.

There is huge potential to upsell and create long-term contracts. Always upsell, and always try to create long-term relationships. Customer service is pivotal; never be afraid to raise a question.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Fiverr gives you a grasp of how to work with consumers. This includes difficult and hard-to-please clients. The site helped me grow a spine and learn to say no. It taught me that my time is valuable. In fact, it was too valuable to call such a website home, and I moved my career elsewhere quickly.

Failure was my teacher. After five years of mistakes, I know a thing or two about avoiding them. I stayed with that site from 2015 to 2017, and I honestly clawed my way through every second. The true lesson is to take what you need, and then move along. Do not dwell on a place that shows no growth potential.

The freelancing site’s famous reputation is not a lie. Fiverr is literally the trenches, but small projects do wonders for collecting future samples. In a few months, I had tens of thousands of words to show off to potential high-paying employers. Keep in mind that I started completely from scratch with no prior experience.

Oh yeah, and I was 15 years old at the time. Was that even legal? Oh, well!

Guest Posting

Though I am against working for free, guest posting holds several benefits. In the long run, you are the one receiving free leads for a relevant audience. Always pick up a byline, and ask the owner of the guest post to include your links. More than likely, they will say yes.

Think of the exposure and experience, plus the ability to reference the live article to potential leads. This method helps creators reach a larger audience with less effort. Also, providing published articles is more impressive than a pre-written attachment.

Guest posting also backlinks your site of choice, making it more relevant to the Google search algorithm. In the world of freelancing, you need to know a thing or two about SEO. In the long run, the purpose is to drive traffic with the least amount of effort.

Free Writing Samples and “Internships”

I am not a big advocate for giving away work for free. Earn your money, and avoid free work. However, I do acknowledge that many successful writers take the path of free samples.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

If you choose to write for free, be sure that the effort is worth your time. Sometimes you strike gold with a valuable job description. In this case, I encourage giving an optimized short sample to impress them. Tailor it to their needs as closely as possible, and explain your process.

See what they want to pay you beforehand, and make sure that they value your effort. Look up the notoriety of the company too! By all means, take the opportunity that falls into your lap. If the customer is worth it, then do a free sample on your own time.

I mentioned decent vetting etiquette in this article also. Read to learn more about proper client vetting techniques from both perspectives.

Why Do You Need Writing Samples?

The best writers have snippets ready to show to a prospective lead. Collecting articles, newsletters, and other content within an organized area makes the hiring process easier. Stay organized, and drive clients to a polished portfolio. This shows professionalism, and you easily advertise your niche.

Choosing to opt-out of a portfolio puts you behind. Tons of competition exists in the writing market. The secret is to target a niche with little competition, and a great niche puts you ahead of the game.

You only need a handful of quality written pieces to demonstrate your experience. Tons of readable websites exist. Their purpose is to organize your projects efficiently. If you are organized, the process takes under an hour to bring those pieces together.

Where Do I Make a Portfolio for My Writing?

Horray for the end of procrastination! So, you decided to make a portfolio. You have the samples ready, and you need to organize them in a single spot. There are quite a few options, including a personal website and specific site tools. You may also choose to keep in-person notebooks for face-to-face interactions. All of these are good options, so let’s narrow them down:

Create A Professional Website

Creating a personal website is an excellent choice. A personal website gives you the freedom to organize any information. Personalize writing samples, and create relevant links to your clients’ websites. Here are a few web building tools to create a personal portfolio:

WordPress hosts a huge portion of the internet. Most businesses and blogs come from WordPress sites, so it is an excellent tool for freedom and creativity. They give free domain hosting for a Premium Package, or choose a Basic Package for free.

Click on this link to learn more about hosting on WordPress.

Weebly is a big competitor for WordPress. Their easy-to-use drag and drop tools make them a quick website building tool. Building a personal website through Weebly takes under an hour, and the results look amazing.

Wix is a free website building tool with a simple drag-and-drop feature. This popular website building tool works excellently for building a good mobile site. Users also utilize their HTML5 tool for coding.

A Special Tool Website

Contently is an organized portfolio tool website that is completely free. It lets you collect your work through links and PDF’s. The site is unique in organizing clients and associating them with your publications. They also submit work to prospects and let them reach out, based on your experience.

If you are interested in signing up for Contently, fill out this form. I can refer you to the site, and they will reach out to you. Click the Contently link above the first paragraph to sign up yourself.

Upwork allows its freelancers to create a concise and organized portfolio at the bottom of their profile. Upload your previous work, and collect testimonials on this organized freelancing tool. Once your samples are diverse enough, you start to get invites to jobs from effective lead generation.

Anyone logged out of Upwork only sees a portion of your profile. This is a huge downside because many newbies have never heard of the site. You can encourage the client to sign up, or use Upwork as a back-up tool.

Are you still uncertain about what website builder to choose? Take a look at this article. It goes into detail on sites that I never used before. This resource is trusted and well-written, and I recommend them.

Thank you for reading!

If you made it this far, thank you. I hope that I provided some value to some newbies. Did you find my opinions valuable? If so, feel free to follow me on social media for updates:

Instagram

Twitter

Portfolio

Upwork

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